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Search for CAO begins

Search on for new CAO

The search for a new chief administrative officer for Prince Edward County begins.
CAO Richard Shannon is due to retire in August of this year and council wants to get the hiring process for his replacement in place as quickly as possible.
The issue surrounding the process is whether to advertise the position and hope good, qualified applicants see the advertisements and apply, or whether a head hunter should be hired to seek out well-qualified applicants.
Cost was one of the primary concerns. Many councillors said the $30,000 or more that might be required to hire a head-hunter or  consultant might be saved by just advertising the position.
Susan Turnbull, the commissioner of corporate services and finance, said hiring a consultant was the way to go because they would have the expertise necessary to expedite the process and to ensure well-qualified final applicants.
Councillor Robert Quaiff argued that everybody wants to work in Prince Edward County recommended advertising first, then hiring a consultant only if needed.
Turnbull said Prince Edward County was not as well known or thought of as some might believe. In recalling her own circumstances surrounding her hiring, she said a head hunter had contacted her and she was 87th on his list.
“The point is, that $30,000 (used to hire the head hunter) did a lot of legwork,” she pointed out.
She also pointed out that the salary scale in the County is often considerably lower than that paid in other areas, so unless people know of the stellar living and working conditions, they will not apply for positions in the County.
Mayor Peter Mertens noted the hiring of a new CAO was a critical position and that any search had to be specifically targeted. He also noted he had been told at a recent conference that 30 per cent of administrative officers in municipalities would be retiring soon, so there would be a lot of people out there hunting.
“We need to go through this process and we need expert advice,” he said. “It doesn’t come cheap, but it is really what we need to do.”
Along with the consultant process, an interview selection committee was established and includes: Mayor Peter Mertens and councillors Jim Dunlop, Keith MacDonald, Heather Campbell and Terry Shortt.

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  1. Doris Lane says:

    Scott do you have a last name everyone else is required to use one
    Nonsense we have some very talented people in the county.

  2. Scott says:

    There is a shortage of skilled talent in the municipal sector due to the aging demographics and retiring middle and senior executives. The County is on the low end of compensation and that’s going to make it VERY hard to attract talented experienced municipal administrators. I work in the municipal sector and know how hard it is to attract and retain talent, especially if there is no financial incentive and you have to uproot your family to move. Advertise locally and you’re wasting time.

    Council should bite the bullet, invest in a head-hunter and let them do the leg-work to search out a pool of qualified people who have the potential to do that job. Council will then interview the pool to determine who has the best “fit” with the County and the organization and can work best with the Mayor & Council.

    Unless you work in the municipal sector you have no idea how much a municpal CAO has to deal with (crazy political requests, unrealistic and chronic public complainers, staff support and operational oversite etc.). Good CAO’s are worth paying for. Consider it an investment in the County’s future. Go on the cheap now, and you’ll pay for it later.

  3. Killashandra Ree says:

    I, too agree with Councillor Quaiff, try advertising and hiring first, then if no luck use a head hunter as a last resort.

    What about promoting from within? I’m sure we must have some very qualified staff, and they already know the county so would have a far shorter learning curve than someone from another community.

  4. Doris Lane says:

    Let us go with Robert Quaiff’s suggestion that we advertise locally etc.
    We have some very qualified people in this county who have held very responsible jobs.
    I doubt that council should listen to the administration in matters like this.
    I don’t think that the job requires so much expertise that we need a consultant firm to tell us what to do. Let the councillors do the job they were elected to do.
    Also we do not have money to waste on consultants every time we turn around.

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